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An American Crime (2007)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  7 December 2007 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 23,720 users  
Reviews: 111 user | 54 critic

The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.


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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paula Baniszewski
Shirley Baniszewski (as Hannah Leigh Dworkin)
Reverend Bill Collier
Marie Baniszewski
Hope Orbach
Patricia Place ...
Mrs. Doyle
Calvin Keet ...
Mr. Doyle


Based on a true story that shocked the nation in 1965, the film recounts one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim. Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens, the two daughters of traveling carnival workers are left for an extended stay at the Indianapolis home of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children. Times are tough, and Gertrude's financial needs cause her to make this arrangement before realizing how the burden will push her unstable nature to a breaking point. What transpires in the next three months is both riveting and horrific. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This has been the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana See more »


Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong and disturbing depiction of child abuse and torture | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 December 2007 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Basement  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ellen Page was the only choice to play Sylvia Likens. See more »


During the big "rescue" scene Ricky and Sylvia flee from Gertie in a 67-68 model Ford Mustang, a blatant error considering the movie is set in 1965. See more »


Sylvia Likens: She sacrificed me to protect her children, and she sacrificed her children to protect herself.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The final credit states "Sylvia Likens, 1949-1965". See more »


Featured in The 60th Primetime Emmy Awards (2008) See more »


Written by Rusty Isabel
Performed by Rusty Isabel
Courtesy of Pure Music Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

sad film, good directing, worth watching.
23 June 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This film was very sad, and the outcome; slightly unpredicted. It makes you look at the screen, confused and slightly horrified. The direction of the film is very good, somehow it makes you feel like you're involved, but like you cant be of any help, which I think reflects the feelings of the majority of the characters.

The influence of the Catherine Keener's character on her children obviously has a different effect by the end of the film. It is a very touching film, as it forces you to see the strength it takes to protect your family, from evils that are affecting you, and evidently you, yourself.

Ellen Page's Acting is on top-form in this film. She's very convincing. In fact, all the acting in this film is extremely good. And the amount of violence, isn't heavy at all, although some people find some scenes hard to watch. However, everything in the film, is crucial to the story. And ultimately, this is a story of a girl, who was stricken by misfortune. I believe her story was told well. But I'm sure there's more to it. Although, if hit by such grief, I wouldn't mind warning the world of such ill adventures.

Overall: this film should be given a metaphorical, standing ovation. As there are so many things about this piece, good; however intense, bitter and sorrowful, it is definitely one worth watching.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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